Are you leaving the security of your mobile gadget (and your data) to chance? With smartphones the norm and tablet sales now on a par with PC sales, the current gadget ‘du jour’ is the ‘phablet’ – smaller and more convenient than a tablet but with a larger screen than a standard smartphone.
Whichever your preferred gadget, the likelihood is you have one and without it you may feel akin to having lost a limb. Chances are then that your smartphone, tablet or phablet is with you at all times.
But by carrying around our precious devices – and our digital lives – we do put ourselves in a potentially vulnerable position. So how can you keep your mobile device safe, and what should you do if it’s lost or stolen?
As comfortable as we have all become with carrying around expensive gadgets, always be aware of where it is: never leave your device unattended or easily visible within an open bag. Opportunistic thieves still exist, and even if you’re not too concerned about the loss of an old mobile phone, the data it contains can be extremely valuable. The police slogan used to help prevent car burglaries and bicycle theft also applies here – Lock it, don’t lose it.
Of course, mobile gadgets are now intrinsic to our everyday lives and using them on public transport or even while walking down the street is one of their perks. It’s not practical to always keep them out of sight, but there are ways to keep them safe.
You can take out insurance and have your phone marked with UV ink or a similar security marking technique and you can even buy phone locks and chains to secure your device in particular places. However, much as when a wallet is lost or stolen your immediate concern is not with the wallet itself but with the cash and credit cards it contains, smart gadgets too contain a great deal of sensitive information. It’s likely the security of that data will be of more concern than the actual gadget, which can be easy – although costly – to replace.
Remote locking of the device. Locating the device using GPS. Wiping information from the device. Playing an alarm or siren to deter thieves and help you locate your gadget if it’s nearby.
Plus, there are other precautions you should take from the moment you get a new gadget.
If you are in the UK, register your phone at the police-recommended. This adds your device to a national database, which helps police identify the owners of recovered property. In the US, immediately report the theft or loss to your carrier. ( Enable your gadget’s security code or PIN – make sure it’s not something that can be easily guessed. Consider taking out insurance – or check if your home insurance will cover your gadget when it’s away from the home. Make a note (not in your gadget) of the make and model of your device along with the IMEI number and/or ESN (electronic serial number). You can get your IMEI number by keying *#06# into your handset. Enable security apps on your phone.
Today, many IT security products, such as Kaspersky Total Security – Multi-Device, include anti-theft web management to protect the sensitive data stored on your Android smartphone or tablet. Kaspersky Total Security – Multi-Device does this by:
Blocking access to your missing Android smartphone or tablet – and also finding its location by using GPS, Wi-Fi and Google Maps. Enabling remote cleaning of your missing smartphone or tablet – so you can wipe personal information from your device. Providing remote activation of an alarm that will sound on your mobile device – until the alarm is deactivated with your secret code. Helping to identify unauthorised users of your Android smartphone or tablet – by taking their photo and sending it to you. Enabling remote access to the block, wipe and locate functions on your missing Android smartphone – even if the SIM card has been changed. Providing remote anti-theft web management – so you can easily communicate with your missing device.
Apple gadgets offer similar security options and there are other apps on the market that can also perform one or more of the above security functions. For example, Kaspersky Lab has launched an anti-theft app called Phound! which helps users find their lost mobile handsets and take control of confidential data on the device remotely. Make sure you have investigated the options available and choose something that suits your needs and budget before you find you need it.
If the worst happens and your gadget is lost or stolen, do the following as soon as you notice your device is missing:
|Report a missing contract phone or tablet to your service provider – you are liable for any calls made or data used until you report it lost or stolen. If you haven’t enabled remote device locking or wiping, your provider may be able to do this for you.|
|Inform the police – if your gadget has been stolen, a crime has been committed and you should report it. If you have registered your device with Immobilise, the police may be able to reunite you with it if it’s recovered.|
|Inform your bank/credit card provider – if you use your mobile device for banking then you should inform your bank or credit card provider immediately so that they can deactivate online banking or digital banking.|